Viral Plea Ends With 98-Year-Old Grandma Swimming Out of Flooded Kentucky Home

·3 min read
Facebook/Missy Amubrgey Crovetti
Facebook/Missy Amubrgey Crovetti

As the deadly floodwaters in Kentucky continues to cause havoc, one woman’s story has garnered particular attention, illustrating the horror of the catastrophic natural disaster.

Missy Amubrgey Crovetti shared a now-viral photo on Facebook of her 98-year-old grandma, Mae Amburgey, stranded in her home, asking if anyone in the area might be able to help.

In the photos, Mae huddles on her bed, her room submerged in four feet of murky brown water. In the post, Crovetti implored someone with a boat to get to her trapped grandmother.

Later that day, Crovetti told the Lexington Herald Leader that Amburgey and her 70-year-old son managed to swim out of the house where boats were waiting for them. The current, however, proved too powerful, pulling Amburgey onto a bridge and her son downstream. Both were eventually rescued and taken to the hospital, where they’re expected to recover.

Many in similarly dire situations did not have the same outcome. The death toll reached 26 on Sunday, Gov. Andy Beshear said, with that number still expected to rise. At least 37 people are missing, FEMA said, and further rainfall was expected on Sunday and Monday.

In Perry County, Sheriff Joe Engle has been the one tasked with notifying loved ones that a family member has died. But he didn’t expect the first person he contacted to be his very own mother.

On Saturday, officials confirmed the county’s first flood-related death: 82-year-old Nellie Mae “Nell” Howard, Engle’s great-aunt. Engle, acting concurrently as sheriff and son, recalled sharing the news with his mom, telling the Lexington Herald Leader that “it broke her heart because they were always real close.”

4 Siblings Die After Home Is ‘Washed Out Underneath’ Them in Kentucky Floods

According to Engle, Howard died at her daughter’s house. When water rushed into the kitchen, the 82-year-old climbed onto a table, which fell out from under her amid the powerful current. Patricia Collins, Howard’s daughter, spent two hours trying to escape the home as houses lifted from the ground and crashed into one another.

Many residents must now deal with the physical destruction of their homes and communities, including 98-year-old Amburgey.

<div class="inline-image__caption"><p>Buckhorn School in Perry County, Kentucky has been severely damaged in the flooding.</p></div> <div class="inline-image__credit">Meteorologist Adam Burniston on Facebook</div>

Buckhorn School in Perry County, Kentucky has been severely damaged in the flooding.

Meteorologist Adam Burniston on Facebook

“[My grandma’s] house is a total mess and like so many from the area, she didn’t have flood insurance,” Crovetti wrote on Facebook. According to Beshear, rebuilding efforts could take years and cost the state hundreds of millions of dollars.

“This is one of the most devastating deadly floods that we have seen in our history,” Beshear said. “It wiped out areas where people didn’t have that much to begin with.”

The most severe flooding is concentrated in a few eastern Appalachian counties, a region that has previously been hit by hurricanes and other natural disasters. As The New York Times reported, it illustrates Kentucky’s vulnerabilities, with some saying that the state must do more to prepare for impending extreme weather, much of which is fueled by climate change.

“Let’s be aware that this is a new normal of incredibly catastrophic events, which are going to hit our most vulnerable communities,” Alex Gibson, the executive director of an arts and education center, told the Times.

With more rainfall predicted on Sunday and extreme heat forecasted later in the week, Kentucky is not yet through with this bout of deadly flooding. Many residents don’t have access to clean water, though the federal government has sent bottled water and plans to send more. Additionally, the federal government will send residents direct payments to deal with relief efforts, though Kentucky’s lieutenant governor said that the timeline remains unclear.

Families are simultaneously contending with personal grief. Engle, reflecting on his great-aunt’s death, put it simply: “It’s just overwhelming.”

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